Novak Djokovic was sensationally disqualified from the US Open on Sunday after he struck a line official with a ball.
At the end of the 11th game of the round of 16 match, Djokovic’s serve was broken by Pablo Carreno Busta. The world No 1 went 5-6 down in the first set against the unseeded player from Spain when he hit a ball in the direction of the female official.
Djokovic appeared to be looking the other way when he pulled the ball from his pocket and smacked it in the direction of the official, it hitting her full toss in the throat.
The official he could be heard gasping on the broadcast. Djokovic rushed over to her to check if she was okay and placed his hand on her back as she struggled to breathe. After a few minutes she got up and walked off the court looking dazed.
Around ten minutes of discussions then ensued between Djokovic, chair umpire Aurelie Tourte, tournament referee Soeren Friemel and Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli, during which he pleaded his case.
The United States Tennis Association said Djokovic had been defaulted under the Grand Slam rules for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”
The body added that he would lose all ranking points and prize money from the tournament.
Referee Friemel said Djokovic told him he should not be defaulted because it was unintentional.
Friemel said he agreed there was no intent but that it was a clear-cut case of Djokovic hitting the ball “angrily and recklessly.”
“She was clearly hurt and in pain. There was no other option,” he told reporters